That is the question currently being asked about the street lights in Suffield. The Town is in the process of determining if it makes good fiscal sense to purchase them from Eversource. To answer that question, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued and a number of qualified companies responded.
The Town contracted with ECG Engineers to represent their interests in the project. They work with towns and schools in support of self-funded Energy Performance Contract (EPC) energy and cost savings projects. Michael Sahm, from that company, reviewed the proposals received which included four phases. Phase 1: Audit and Project Development; Phase 2: Implementation; Phase 3: Project Closeout and Deliverables (warranties, manuals, utility filings, etc.); and Phase 4: Maintenance. Phase 1 is nearing completion and whether the Town continues will be dependent on the findings and recommendations from this phase.
After reviewing all proposals received, Dr. Sahm recommended Tanko Lighting. Their website (https://tankolighting.com) indicates their goal is to save taxpayer dollars and the environment through energy efficient street lighting. The Board of Finance approved that selection and proceeded with the Phase 1 audit. Eversource provided a list of the street lights they have on file and Tanko has been working on completing an audit to reconcile its accuracy. Their audit includes documenting the light’s serial number, GIS location coordinates, fixture type, and the lamp used. They have confirmed that there are approximately 700 lights that would need to be purchased.
When the data is in, Dr. Sahm will complete an analysis and report for the Finance Board’s decision. Many factors are taken into consideration to determine an accurate purchase value or Net Book Value including age and type of the lighting. Some lights are newer, installed in 2019, and older units date back to 1959. Another consideration during the Phase 1 assessment is upgrading to energy efficient LED fixtures that can use half the energy of current lighting and are expected to last up to 100,000 hours or 25 years under typical use. The fact that Eversource charges one rate when they own the lights and a significantly lower rate if you own the lights is also a major factor.
All things considered, it is anticipated that the Town will be the recipient of immediate savings from reduced Eversource bills. The Town should break even in approximately 7-9 years depending on the size of the investment and then be ahead of the game for the balance of the life of the lighting. An update and Phase 1 recommendation were presented to the Board of Finance on October 15 for their consideration.